Woman-Owned Business (WBE) Pre-Certification Self Assessment
A Women-Owned Business Enterprise (WBE) certification is a time-intensive process that involves making available to the department many personal and financial documents. Prior to submitting an application a review of the rule criteria is recommended. Taking the time to thoroughly read the administrative rule criteria can prevent many lost hours in preparing an application for a WBE certification for which an applicant is ineligible to receive.
All information submitted to the department becomes the property of the department. The Department allows between four to six weeks for processing an application. The review process may take longer in situations where an applicant did not submit all the required information or did not respond to the department's request for additional information.
Prior to completing a WBE certification application, an applicant should also ask themselves the following questions:
- Do you meet the eligibility requirements in all three criterias? The department will determine whether or not the criteria and documentation you submit meet the administrative rule requirements in determining ownership, management and control. The three criterias are ownership, management and control.
- Are you able to document your financial investment to acquire or start the business? The department requires proof of your ownership and therefore requires disclosure regarding the means of the investment (financial paper trail) made by you to acquire or start the company.
- Are you able to document and demonstrate that you possess the experience, expertise and knowledge to operate the particular type of business in which you seek WBE certification? Generally, expertise limited to office management, administration, or bookkeeping functions unrelated to the principal business activities of the company is insufficient to demonstrate control. Your ability to control the business operations should not be limited by the structure of the corporate governance, financial restrictions or a substantial reliance upon a male business owner in exercising independence in decision-making.
- Are the services and products of your business needed by government agencies and/or large corporations? Not knowing whether a corporation or government agency is in need of your product or service could mean you obtain a women-owned business enterprise certification that will hold no value in expanding the marketability of your business. Typically, it is larger corporations and government agencies that have diversity goals in place and will request verification of your status as a women-owned business. Keep in mind that currently the State of Wisconsin does not have statutory language to direct state government to have goals for their WBE purchasing. There is also no state government preference awarded WBE certified businesses and gender alone is not a category for minority-business (MBE) status.
- What are the types of certifications that a corporation that you wish to provide services/supplies will accept? It's important to do your homework in advance to determine the needs of larger corporations that you feel may purchase your service/supplies. Many large corporations will not accept a governmental certification as valid recognition of your ownership and will prefer certification from a nationally recognized certifier such as the National Womens Business Enterprise Council (www.wbenc.org) or the National Women Business Owners Corporation (www.nwbo.org)
It's important to do your homework in advance to determine whether the corporation that you wish to provide services/supplies to will recognize the State of Wisconsin, Department of Administration's women-owned business certification. A review of the supplier diversification program of a target market corporation is one place to start in doing your research in advance of applying to be a Wisconsin women-owned business enterprise.
- Is your business able to meet the demands of a corporation or state agency if you are awarded a contract for your services or products? If your business is too small to be able to fulfill the needs of a contract, a women-owned business may not be able to be utilize their certification. Typically large corporations and government agencies have large contract needs which a small business may not be able to fulfill. A women-owned business should closely examine their capabilities to meet the contract criteria and quality standards.
- Is being a WBE certificate holder a part of your marketing plan? Simply having a certificate stating that you are a women-owned business enterprise will not enhance your business unless you properly market yourself as a certified WBE. A WBE certificate holder should have a strategic marketing plan in place that includes the target markets that recognize the value of doing business with a certified WBE.